Matt Knutson: Be bold about what the new year will hold

Published 9:13 pm Thursday, December 28, 2017

Things I Tell My Wife by Matt Knutson

“She’s certainly timid around strangers,” I remarked after our daughters had a semi-successful visit with Santa last week. Our eldest was a bit too cautious around St. Nick, only approaching him when she recognized a favorite cartoon fish was on his boot. The photos of 2-month-old Maeva on the other hand prove her to be a bit more carefree with a wide yawn across her face. At least we avoided tears this year.

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In fact, avoiding tears during Santa’s visit might have been the most unusual part of 2017. It was a rather tearful year. Gracelyn grew into a toddler, bringing a whole new meaning to what I once understood was crying. Did you know that little ones have the power to turn off their tantrum whenever they get what they want? They can, and their ability to control their emotions in such a powerful manipulative way is both terrifying and inspirational. More tears came as hormones brought out an emotional side of my pregnant wife that I had very quickly forgotten after Gracelyn was born. As humorous as it was, I don’t particularly miss her welling up at the sight of each fire truck. Months later, when Maeva was born, we were provided with a perfect Christmas card photo of her beautiful face wailing shortly after birth. I can still hear her cry every time I glance at that photo, so in jest, we captioned our card with the lyrics from “Silent Night.”

I’m not going to lie to myself and say that I expect fewer tears in 2018. There is something inherently beautiful that comes from a pure expression of raw emotion. The same concept can come with triumphant exultation, when uninhibited joy abounds. Being able to control or create those moments would be able to shape the essence of our most vivid memories. I’m hopeful for more of that boldness in the year to come.

This time of year is always a gift as it allows us to dedicate a few moments of reflection on what has come to pass and anticipation of what might be ahead. 2018 could unravel into many different pathways, some expected and others not. For me, what’s important during this time of introspection is to recognize power of intentionality. Life has carried us to this moment in time, perhaps by happenstance, but perhaps also by fate. There is only so much we have control over, but what we do control, we can greatly shape. So many people in 2017 felt beaten down, but 2018 brings with it immense potential for something new. That’s the power of this time of year — we get to imagine what that something new might be.

Sitting in my living room filled with toys, I’ll concede that imagining something new seems a bit hard right now. With two girls under 2 years old, most days feel like Sera and I are stuck in survival mode. Our mornings arrive early with cries from the eldest and the nights creep late with screams of the youngest. The fact that there are moments when both are asleep at once provides me more faith in God than I’ll ever need. But there, in the midst of the exhaustion, is where the best part of life is found. It’s when Gracelyn is frantically jumping up and down with only her diaper on, and Maeva suddenly rolls her head your way with a larger than life grin that you begin to see the joy that will come to you and your wife in the next year.

As you think about how you imagine 2018, take time to be bold in expressing what you hope the year will hold. Soon the ball will drop and we’ll be counting down from 10 without taking a single moment to prepare for what’s to come in our next lap around the sun. Gracelyn may approach Santa timidly, but she and the rest of my girls are far from timid in most other areas of their lives. Perhaps they’re on to something.

Matt Knutson is a communications specialist in Rochester.